Arnaud Makalou in residence
Arnaud Makalou lives in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, where his was born in 1980. As a photographer, he is hosted as artist-in-residence at the AfricaMuseum this spring 2022. His personal and professional career regularly brings him in contact with the history of the railway in Central Africa. The long train journeys he’d undertaken in his youth would become fond memories, but also a point of reference that drove him to start his project in which the AfricaMuseum is happy to be able to assist him.
Being very close to his older sister who died during the civil war of 1997, he inherited her Zenit camera, with which he started taking 'souvenir shots' of his friend. This would become the key moment that guided him towards a life of photography. Soon, he got invited in the studio of a local photographer, which then led him to embark a course at the CCF (Centre culturel Français) and a traineeship financed by the EU. The many acquaintances he made during this period drove him to create the Collectif Génération Elili through which he assembled fellow photographers that provided each other with constructive critique. The collective proved very fruitful: many of them started to get engaged with the press and greater studios.
Since then, Arnaud Makalou was handed the prize of young talent by the Director of Fine Arts during the biennales of photography Afrikaribu. He was also appointed technical and artistic director of the Collectif Elili and participated in several international exhibitions.
La Traversée : Projet de Recherche et de Réalisation Photographique sur le Chemin de Fer
It is through the camera lens that Arnaud Makalou became aware of the situation in his country. The fact is: nothing has changed, nothing was renewed. Thus everything finds itself in a deteriorated state. This is why Makalou proposes a ‘crossing’, a journey beyond the yoke of the colonial past. The title of his first photographic series - La Traversée – alludes, in this context, to the mental, physical and temporal crossing. It refers to the voyage he made as a youngster on his way to visit his aunt, and will as such serve as an itinerary, guiding the photographic comparison between the landscape surrounding the railway today, and during the colonial period. The project that Makalou calls La Traversée thus traverses the temporal gap that separates the colonial era from our own. Not only does it seek to indicate the need for a political and economic ‘crossing’, it simultaneously undertakes a mental ‘crossing’ by photographically extracting the beauty of a world where : All we hear about is crisis, misery and war. His brightly coloured photographs express the hope of this long-awaited traversée.